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Renowned Southeast Developer Hal Barry Dies At 82

Hal Barry, a larger-than-life developer behind some of the Atlanta skyline's most noteworthy buildings, died May 31 at the age of 82.

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Not only did Hal Barry love chasing real estate deals, he also loved chasing foxes with his foxhounds.

Barry developed or co-developed 4.5M SF in the Southeast, including Ivan Allen Plaza in Downtown Atlanta, Northpark Town Center in Central Perimeter and Riverwood in Cumberland/Galleria. He also mentored or hired a number of leading Atlanta commercial real estate names during a career that spanned more than 50 years.

“He was certainly one of the most significant mentors I ever had in my life,” said Hines Senior Managing Director John Heagy, who worked with Barry at Atlanta commercial real estate brokerage firm Adam Cates Co.

Barry later partnered with legendary architect and developer John Portman to start the firm Portman Barry Investments, which became the starting ground for many of Atlanta's CRE luminaries, including Colliers Executive Chairman Bob Mathews, Lee & Associates President Dick Bryant, Patterson Real Estate Advisory Group CEO Lance Patterson, Colliers principal Deming Fish and New City Properties President Jim Irwin.

“Hal had a huge impact on so many folks,” said Chris Schoen, a partner with Greenstone Properties who worked alongside Barry at Barry Real Estate Cos. until he parted from the company in 2011.

“Everywhere you go in Atlanta, there are people who worked at PBI and Barry Real Estate back in the day who have gone on to do great things,” said Barry's son, Jimmy Barry, a principal at Urban Creek Partners.

Barry grew up outside of Fairbank, Iowa, a town of 650 people, and attended Iowa State University, where he studied engineering. Barry and his wife of 59 years, Linda Kunkle Barry, in 1969 moved to Atlanta, where Barry joined Adam Cates and started with creating loans for commercial real estate developments. While there, Barry helped assemble land for two Ritz-Carlton hotels in Atlanta and Georgia-Pacific's headquarters in the city, according to a Wall Street Journal profile on Barry in 1998.

He and Portman formed Portman Barry Investments in 1983.

His career wasn't without its falls. Barry and Portman gave back the 23-story Riverwood office project to the lender in 1989 when the firm failed to meet its debt obligations on the property, according to the Wall Street Journal. By 1993, Barry and Portman split ways, but Barry soon came back into the CRE game and formed Barry Real Estate Cos. in 1996.

Some of those who knew Barry say his setbacks never got him down.

"He was definitely optimistic. His glass was always half full, and he saw the bright side of things regularly,” said Kenneth Kraft, a partner and real estate attorney with Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs who was outside counsel for Barry from 1989 to 2012. “He just believed that he and his team — and he had a really great team — would achieve their goals.”

Jimmy Barry said real estate gave his father a thrill of the chase, using a fox hunting term, a hobby his father was devoted to at his horse farm home in Newnan. In 2001, Barry's love for fox hunting led him to form the Bear Creek Hounds hunt club.

“I've been blessed since his passing to have so many people call me with stories of Hal back in the day. And there is one common theme to all of them: Hal was a doer, he never quit, a great leader and visionary,” Jimmy Barry said. “Many times people doubted him about a deal or vision, and he would never give up.”

Heagy echoed those sentiments about his mentor.

“Whenever we think of Hal, we think of his incredible optimism. We'll always think of that incredible smile of his. We all just hope that we can be as positive and as upbeat as Mr. Barry always was despite whatever circumstance he was having to deal with,” Heagy said. “The simple lesson I learned from Hal is to never give up. I have carried that with me in my career for 42-plus years.”

Memorial services for Barry are scheduled for 11 a.m. June 20 at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Newnan.